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Table of Contents

Improvement in Customer Service in Healthcare

1042

The term “Customer Relationship Management” or CRM refers to a collection of methodologies, technical devices, software and other inputs that help manage relationships with customers in an organized manner. CRM is effective if what the customers receive are the products and services that they desire.

Abstract

The relationship between CRM and the success of healthcare institutions is well-established. A good relationship between the patient and the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals will cause the customers’ to be more loyal, which in turn will bring beneficial results to the healthcare providers. This study looks into the factors that influence the success of healthcare providers that are implementing CRM strategies. Using the SERVQUAL model for determining the levels of customer satisfaction through a comparison of service level expectations and perception, the study determined that key SERVQUAL elements are essential for developing customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Using a SERVQUAL modified questionnaire to acquire data from healthcare recipients and healthcare service professionals, the study examined the factors contributing to customer satisfaction such as tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. A statistically driven analysis resulted into the identification of the levels of importance of each factor in achieving either customer satisfaction or customer loyalty.

The study’s findings and conclusions are relevant for policy formulation specifically for healthcare structure improvements for private healthcare institutions. The study’s findings are also helpful for future research, as validated proof for the applicability of the SERVQUAL model for service-industry specific researches.

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Introduction

The term “Customer Relationship Management” or CRM refers to a collection of methodologies, technical devices, software and other inputs that help manage relationships with customers in an organized manner (Rouse, 2006). CRM encompasses the processes undertaken by the entire organization. A good example of CRM is the utilization of information in an enterprise that has built up a database about its customers that would provide usable information to people with the objective of improving their work functions. For example, sufficient information will be beneficial for the enterprise’s managers, sales personnel, customer service personnel and even their clients because information that is useful will help the enterprise match the needs of the clients with the products and services that the enterprise offers. CRM is effective if what the customers receive are the products and services that they desire.

There are many components of CRM. The industry recognizes several elements of CRM including the assistance that CRM brings to the enterprise in enabling marketing departments in identifying and targeting their customers, in managing marketing campaigns and in generating business leads that are critical for the enterprise’s sales team. CRM is also important in assisting the enterprise in improving its sales accounts through an improvement of the sales process. With CRM, multiple employees can share information that is critical for streamlining the sales process.

CRM is also important in forming relationships with customers. The relationships that are formed can be on an individual basis. The individualized approach delivers maximum customer satisfaction as well as profits. With an effective CRM, the highest level of service is provided to the most profitable customer segment of the enterprise.

Lastly, CRM is important in providing employees the necessary information and processes that enable them to know, understand and build effective relationships with their clients, their own companies, and the partners and other stakeholders of their companies (Rouse, 2006).

The importance of CRM has made it one of the most controversial issues, if not one of the most decisive points in the business world today, according to various academic studies conducted on the business significance of CRM, including studies conducted by Balaram and Adhikari in 2010, by Becker, et.al in 2009, by Dimitriadis and Steven in 2008, and by Ozgener and Iraz in 2006. In addition, CRM establishes the belief that a sustainable business relationship with customers is the fundamental requirement for establishing customer loyalty and profitability (Dowling, 2002).

The findings of these scholarly researches point out the importance of successfully implementing a CRM strategy. A successfully implemented CRM strategy will benefit any enterprise. A business organization that previously has no CRM strategy will reap huge benefits in the form of increased sales. The increase in sales is driven by information that leads to better market segmentation, better product and service customization, higher quality production, higher employee satisfaction, better information dissemination, and as mentioned earlier, long-term customer retention from increased loyalty and customer satisfaction. These findings are supported by researches conducted by Alomtairi in 2009, by Ozgener and Iraz in 2006, by Stockdale in 2007 and by Verma and Chandhuri in 2009.


The importance of CRM in many service sectors is studied and analysed in several notable publications. A study of the effect on CRM on the banking sector was the subject of studies conducted by Akroush et al in 2011, by Becker et al in 2009, by Eid in 2007, by Hussain et al in 2009, by Krasnikov et al in 2009 and by Sin et al in 2005. The effect of CRM is also studied in the field of telecommunications, as exhibited in studies conducted by Almotairi in 2009 and by Beldi et al in 2010. Abdullateef et al also studied the effect of CRM in the contact center industry in 2010. There are a lot of studies leading to the discovery of the importance of CRM in the hospitality industry. These studies include researches conducted by Luck and Stephenson in 2009 and by Wu and Lu in 2012. However, despite all the studies on CRM, there are still plenty of opportunities for establishing similar studies regarding CRM and other service industries. A service industry that is highly personalized is the health care industry. Studies on the effect of CRM in improving the services provided by the health care industry provide a highly useful platform for examining the theoretical and empirical dimensions of CRM and the healthcare industry.

The interesting aspect of healthcare management and CRM is the obvious relationship between the patients (customers of healthcare institutions) and the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals that provide the services required by their customers (Richard & Ronald, 2008). A good relationship between the patient and the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals will cause the customers’ to be more loyal. Loyal customers will bring beneficial results to the healthcare providers.

Customer satisfaction begins with the improvement of the capability of both the customer and the healthcare provider to communicate with each other. The improved level of communication enables the clients to receive better health care which in turn improves their lives (Arora, 2003). If the communication process fails, a case of dissatisfaction will commence. A very high level of dissatisfaction for customers will lead to severe distrust towards the health management system. If the relationship between the healthcare professional and the customer is uncorrected, customers will feel alienated and will result in damaging effects on the viability of the business of providing healthcare management services. Based on this generalization, it is imperative that healthcare providers and their customers develop a relationship that is based on a well-managed strategy for building trust and confidence through communication.

The academic studies that were mentioned in the previous section of this report indicate the importance of Customer Relationship Management in the survival of the business organization. Currently, CRM is used in almost all industries, including the healthcare industry, to ensure that better services are made available to the patients. Simply put, CRM has become an indispensable tool in the healthcare industry, as it is in other service-oriented industries. The speedy improvement in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has helped business organizations worldwide to hasten and widen its ability to provide meaningful services to its clients.

It is very safe to say that in today’s business architecture, the inclusion of CRM makes companies more responsive and profitable. The integration of CRM into the business processes has made CRM indispensable, such that a business that does not have a comprehensive CRM strategy is categorically incomplete. CRM can contribute to the retention of existing customers. CRM can address a business organization’s desire to attract new customers, as well. Customer retention is one of the fundamental requirements for business growth and sustainability. Thus CRM’s value in ensuring growth and sustainability for any business organization is obvious.

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CRM can also be utilized for extending new products and services to existing and new clients. The challenge of retaining customers and introducing new products and services is evident in the healthcare industry. In a healthcare management environment, the providers of healthcare services and products are challenged to retain existing customers (for example, dentists cannot retain their clients once their teeth issues are addressed). The challenge of acquiring potential clients is even greater than the challenge of retaining existing clients due to fierce competition among healthcare providers. Thus, the effectively implementation of a workable CRM strategy in the healthcare industry must be carefully crafted and managed.

There are still criticisms regarding the importance of CRM. Critics argue that CRM is simply a technology for providing customer feedback. These critics believe that CRM strategies provide little results and the success or failure of these CRM strategies are of little consequence to the business organization. Thus, some corrective measures need to be taken to ensure that these sectors are enlightened. CRM strategies are significant in improving services. CRM strategies create solidarity, satisfaction, loyalty and even advocacy, in some cases. CRM strategies are influenced by the use of information and technology. Thus, for a CRM strategy to be effective, the CRM strategy must incorporate critical learnings in the areas of customer behaviour, culture transformation and management, individual and group interaction dynamics, and technology adoption rates. Including learnings from these critical areas would result in a CRM strategy that would approximate the behaviour and expectation of clients, taking into full consideration the changing needs and desires of the market.

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